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Epcot Offers Small Children a Lot of Rides and Shows
The World Showcase shows and exhibitions, along with seasonal festivals for food and alcohol, are definitely beloved by adults, but the Epcot park has enough activities to keep kids entertained for a day (or more). Many families will avoid touring this part of Disney World with preschoolers and young children, believing there is little in the park that will interest this age group, but with few height limits and several thrill rides, the park is well-designed for its youngest guests. The Epcot theme park has two sections, the World Showcase and Future World, and both sections offer activities, rides, and shows that appeal to the entire family.
While the availability of fast passes is limited to one "Tier One" ride in advance, try to obtain a second fast pass on the day of your visit or arrive at park opening to minimize lines for the following rides:
- Frozen Ever After
- Soarin' Over the World
- Test Track
Best Activities in Future World
The Future World section of Epcot contains several rides and themed pavilions. Spontaneous shows occur throughout the day near the Spaceship Earth. A fun show is the Jammitors, where a group of musicians dressed as janitors suddenly stops and starts to perform an impressive drumming act. It is fun to check the schedule in advance and point out the "janitors" to the small kids in your party. When the Jammitors start their show, kids are often surprised and delighted.
Spaceship Earth: Fun and Educational for Everyone
The iconic large, white sphere at the entrance to EPCOT contains a ride explaining the development of communication over the course of human history. This slow, continuously loading dark ride is not scary in any way, unless children are afraid of the dark. The ride slowly goes past scenes from early humans participating in cave painting, Rome, the development of film in the 20th century, and the final development of the internet age. Preschoolers and up enjoy the interactive component of the ride, which allows children to choose their home location and favorite activities. The ride projects an image of their future as the ride vehicle slowly descends to the ride exit.
The Living Seas: Perfect for Preschoolers
The Living Seas offers a ride and a full aquarium, which appeals to all ages. The aquarium is extremely large and offers manatees, tropical fish, sharks, and more.
The Seas with Nemo and Friends is a slow moving, continuous loading ride that travels through the aquarium. The ride features an original song and a unique projection system places Nemo and other characters into the aquarium, so they appear to swim along with the real fish.
Turtle Talk with Crush is a fantastic show for all ages. A large screen appears to be a window into the ocean, and an animated Crush appears to talk with children and their families. Crush responds live to all questions asked by children in the audience and kids are wowed by the fact that Crush can see them and respond to them.
In addition to the aquarium and ride, a fun restaurant named the Coral Reef is located inside the aquarium. All of the tables have a clear view of large windows into the aquarium, so it appears you are dining under the sea. Sea turtles, sharks, and fish regularly swim by, in addition to an occasional scuba diver.
The Land Pavilion: Learn About the Earth
The Land contains two restaurants and two rides. Living with the Land is an educational boat ride through Disney’s large greenhouse, exploring unique agricultural methods and plants. The slow-moving boat ride is not scary in any way and is an excellent ride for all ages. There is no height or age limit, and even infants may enjoy this ride. Try looking for “hidden Mickeys” with preschoolers and grade-school children throughout the ride.
The second ride in the Land is Soarin’ over the World, which has a minimum height limit of 40 inches. This major attraction simulates hang-gliding around the globe. The seats lift up and swing out over an extremely large screen. This ride might frighten some children and adults with a fear of heights. While exciting, this ride does not generate high speeds or experience drops. This ride often develops long lines, so it is a wise idea to obtain a fast pass or ride at park opening.
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Mission: SPACE: Fun for Preschoolers to Adults
Mission: SPACE offers two ride options: the thrilling “Orange Side” and the mild “Green Side.” The orange side spins at a rapid rate to simulate G-forces experienced in a rocket lift-off. The Orange Side simulates a trip to Mars, and the spinning effect has made many adults ill with motion sickness. Children under 44" height may not ride. The Green Side, however, does not spin and simulates a rocket trip around the earth. The height requirement for the Green Side is only 40” and small children are provided with a booster seat so they can reach the controls to help fly their rocket ship with help from three other family members (four people fit into each space capsule). Note to adults: those suffering from severe claustrophobia should not attempt to ride Mission: Space.
The Mission: Space building also features interactive video games, educational activities, and a large playground to allow small kids to burn off some pent-up energy.
Imagination Pavilion: Perfect for Preschoolers
Journey into Imagination with Figment is a ride suitable to all ages. This slow moving dark ride features the purple dragon Figment as he explores imagination. There is one brief scene with a loud blast from a train whistle that may briefly frighten some children.
The exterior of the pavilion features an “upside down waterfall” and leaping jets of water that periodically jump from one fountain to another. Toddlers and preschoolers love playing in this area of Future World.
Imageworks is located inside the pavilion and features various interactive games, including leading a virtual orchestra. Kids up to age 10 will enjoy playing in this area.
Test Track: A Thrilling Ride for Kids Tall Enough to Ride
Some preschoolers may be tall enough to ride test track (minimum height requirement is 40"), but this ride is best enjoyed by kids in grade school and up. Test Track is an extremely fun car design and track ride, and is one of my children’s favorite rides in all of Disney World. This ride generates long lines and is best enjoyed with a fast pass or at park opening. This ride is prone to shutting down during storms, so take note of the weather as heavy rain will cause the ride to close.
After queuing through an educational display of car design, families are ushered into a room of monitors. Typically, two people are assigned to each monitor, so there is one car design allowed per pair of people. Having one adult pair up with each child will allow each child in your family to design a vehicle. Kids work with an easy design platform to design their car’s engine, wheels, overall shape, and color. Once designed the saved car is scanned onto a Magic Band or park ticket. Before entering the ride vehicle, the Magic Band/Park Ticket is scanned again to load the car designs into the ride software.
The ride vehicle consists of two rows of seats, with each row seating three people. Once seat belts are secured, the car goes through a variety of tests for agility, efficiency, and finally speed around an external track. After each trial, the winning car design is displayed on a monitor.
The pavilion also features interactive games and monitors outside the ride to allow kids to design cars to their hearts’ content. Actual cars are located within the building to view.
The World Showcase
With 11 countries and several fun, interactive exhibits to look at, the World Showcase is a place for both children and adults. Obtaining an Epcot “passport” is a really fun way to explore the World Showcase, as it allows children to visit various “Kidcot” stations throughout the area.
Mexico: Pavilion and Boat Ride
The Mexico Pavilion features a fun, indoor restaurant that overlooks the pavilion’s boat ride. The San Angel Inn is a fun place to have lunch and escape the heat on a busy day (advance reservations required). The large pyramid building features a slow moving boat ride. The Grand Fiesta Tour floats through scenes from Mexico, with animatronics from the Three Caballeros along the way. This ride is not scary in any way and all ages will enjoy the ride.
Norway: Frozen Princesses and Ride
With displays of historical artifacts from Norway and Viking helmets for sale, Norway is a fun place to explore and shop. The princesses Anna and Elsa may also be met in this area. This pavilion also features the boat ride “Frozen Ever After,” which is a highly popular ride. Fast Pass is recommended.
Frozen Ever After takes riders on a slow-moving boat ride through Arendelle, the fictional Scandinavian country from the movie Frozen. The boat makes its way toward the main character Elsa, who sings the animated feature’s signature song, “Let it Go.” The boat then travels backward and a snow monster briefly lifts his head and blows frosty air over the boat. A small drop occurs at this part of the ride, taking riders back to the loading station. The drop may frighten some children. There is no height requirement for this ride.
China: A Movie and History
The China Pavilion does not feature any rides, but does have a movie, exhibits from China, and shows featuring the Jeweled Dragon Acrobats. The entrance to the pavilion is a replica of the ceremonial gate to the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. A replica of the terracotta warriors is also an interesting exhibit to view while in this area. Check the daily schedule for show times. The 360° Circle Vision movie “Reflections of China” will be enjoyed most by children ages six and up.
Japan: Pearl Discoveries and Drummers
The Japanese Pavilion does not feature any rides or movies. A regular show featuring Japanese taiko drummers in front of the replica of the 7th Century Horyuji Temple is fun to watch for all ages. Inside the store, the “Pick a Pearl” experience makes a fantastic souvenir. After picking a live oyster, a traditional ceremony is performed to open the oyster and discover what size pearl is inside. This activity is highly recommended for families, as the one-on-one interaction with the cast member from Japan is extremely engaging and fun.
The American Adventure: A Show With Animatronics and Film
The USA pavilion does not feature any rides, but does feature a rather lengthy show about American History called the American Adventure. Toddlers, preschoolers, and young grade schoolers may not have the patience to sit through this 30 minute long show, but kids older than six will enjoy the combination of animatronics and film effects.
Helpful tip: learn about Ben Franklin and Mark Twain before watching the show, as these two historical icons are the guides through the show experience.
The Voices of Liberty, an eight-part a cappella group, also sing in the rotunda of the American Adventure.
Germany: Great for Kids Who Love Trains
Germany does not have any shows or rides, but a large model train set-up will delight children. Three separate trains run through the area, which is well themed. A Bavarian band also performs for entertainment purposes.
Biergarten is a fun place to eat in the Germany Pavilion, as Oktoberfest is celebrated year-round inside this restaurant. Guests are seated at long tables alongside other park visitors. The meal is buffet-style, allowing guests to eat as much as they care to enjoy. Live entertainment and music is provided while guests eat. Biergarten is a wonderful option for families with toddlers, as young children are free to get up and dance to the music and to get more food.
France: Fantastic Stop for Snacks and a Movie
France has one movie and one ride is under construction. The Impressions de France movie in France is suitable to all ages. Unlike the 360° Circle Vision movies, this traditional format allows guests to sit in theater seats. For those who are exhausted from standing and walking all day, this theater is an attractive option. The Serveur Amusant is an extremely fun show to watch, where two acrobats build a tower of chairs and balance on the top.
Remy's Ratatouille Adventure is a trackless 4D adventure that opened in October 2021 on the 39th anniversary of Epcot. A similar design to the one in Paris, this ride does not have a minimum height limit and should appeal to all ages.
Italy: Entertainment and Restaurants
Italy does not have any movies or rides, but does feature two restaurants. Sergio, a juggler and a mime, provides live entertainment in the square at various times of the day (check the daily schedule).
Via Napoli is a fun pizza restaurant in the pavilion and is well loved by children and adults. While the pizza may seem pricey, when the family pizza is split among four people, it is one of the cheapest table service lunch options in Epcot (advance reservations required).
UK: Perfect for a Quiet Break
The UK does not feature any movies or rides. The pavilion features fun shops, restaurants, and Alice in Wonderland and Mary Poppins sometimes appear for autographs.
Tucked at the back of the pavilion is Tigger's Maze, a fun hedge maze young children love to run through. The English gardens are quite beautiful and it is a nice place to take a break from the crowds.
Morocco: Interesting Food and Entertainment
Morocco offers great shopping and food options for the adults in the party, but kids will love the entertainment provided by belly dancers and the Houzali Troupe performs acrobatics at various times of the day (check the daily schedule in advance).
Morocco does not feature a movie or a ride, but the pavilion does feature one of the most unique restaurants in all of Disney World: Spice Road Table. Kids will love the live entertainment during the meal and the henna tattoos offered during the meal. Advanced dining reservations are required at this restaurant, so be sure to secure one prior to visiting Epcot if this restaurant is on your "must do" list.
Canada: Gardens, Waterfalls, and a Movie
The Canada pavilion has one movie in 360° Circle Vision, called O' Canada. The area also has shops, beautiful gardens, and the steakhouse Le Cellier. The waterfalls near the entrance to the movie about Canada are 30' high and are fun to explore prior to enjoying the movie in this pavilion. A Canadian folk band plays in the area throughout the day.
Kids' Favorite Epcot Attractions
© 2018 Leah Lefler